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SCHWEINFURT, Germany — Sgt. 1st Class Luis Enrique Gutierrez-Rosales, or “Goot” to his friends, sat down to chow with his new battalion commander.

Lt. Col. John Reynolds had just taken over the battle-worn 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment in Adhamiyah, eastern Baghdad. It had been a particularly deadly spell for the battalion, and Goot was one of Reynolds’ senior soldiers.

“[Gutierrez-Rosales] looked at me and he said, ‘Sir, I know this is a tough way to take command, but I want to let you know that all will be OK,’” according to Reynolds. “‘We will get through this as a team, we will get through this together.’”

Together in spirit, it turns out.

“Although he is no longer physically with us,” Reynolds wrote in his tribute to Goot, “his words continue to guide both me, his platoon, his company and this battalion.”

Gutierrez-Rosales and Spcs. Zachary R. Clouser, Richard Gilmore III and Daniel E. Gomez, who all died July 18, were memorialized Wednesday during a service at the Ledward Barracks chapel.

While Gutierrez-Rosales, 38, was well into his career, the others were just starting. Clouser, Gilmore and Gomez had joined the Army after the war in Iraq was well under way, knowing they would probably be sent to the fight.

A perfect, blue-sky day welcomed about 400 people as they arrived at the chapel for the packed morning memorial.

During the service, the four were called “real heroes” — as opposed to the celebrity type — because they took risks to benefit others instead of themselves. The soldiers died when attacked in their Bradley fighting vehicle by a roadside bomb. They were returning to their base from a compensation mission, where they had been paying money to Iraqis who had filed claims.

The soldiers were happy and upbeat that day, joking with each other and with the local residents, and chattering on the radio during the ride back to base, according to remarks written by their company commander.

“I thank God that I was on the patrol during which these men were taken from us,” wrote Capt. Jess Greaves. “Not because my presence made a difference, but because I will forever have the memory of true brotherhood. Of four guys making the best of a very dangerous and frightening place. Of men who drew strength from each other.”

Gilmore was a driver, Clouser a gunner, Gomez a medic, and Gutierrez-Rosales a platoon sergeant.

According to the testimonials, Gilmore, 22, bragged up his unit to his father until it sounded like the only unit in Iraq. Another wrote about Clouser, “Zach, brother, rest in peace and drink up on Coronas, because one day our friendship will be reunited. I love you.”

As for “Doc” Gomez, 21, nothing could keep him down; he was always smiling.

The soldiers had deployed to Iraq Aug. 6, 2006 — Clouser’s 19th birthday. They are among 56 soldiers from the Schweinfurt-based 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, to die since it deployed to Iraq nearly one year ago.


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